KANNAPOLIS, N.C. — When it comes to NASCAR, there isn’t much of an offseason.
Cranberry Township native Travis Geisler doesn’t care — now that the Roger Penske race team has the Sprint Cup championship trophy in the shop.
“Everybody’s back at work, prepping for next season,” said Geisler, director of competition for Penske Racing. “Our season is so long, you don’t get much of a break.
“We’re all back in the shop with big smiles on our faces, though, now that we have that special piece of hardware with us.”
Geisler, 32, has been with Penske Racing for six years. He was engineer for Ryan Newman when the latter won the Daytona 500 in 2008. He was with the race team when Brad Keselowski won the Nationwide Series title in 2010.
And he found himself in victory lane last Sunday when Keselowski clinched the first Sprint Cup championship in the Penske team’s 40-year history.
The Daytona 500 and Nationwide crowns marked firsts for Penske as well.
“My father (100-plus Lernerville Speedway feature winner Lynn Geisler) is still No. 1 in terms of helping me to develop my racing career as a whole,” Geisler said. “When I moved over to the pro side, learning what I had to learn, no one was more influential to me than Mr. Penske.
“He makes people feel like working harder than they believe they can, without ever telling them to do it. This is an amazing team and I hope I have a long future here.”
Geisler described his duties with the Penske team as overseeing the race team’s performance and the specs of the race cars.
Penske Racing has two Sprint Cup teams: Keselowski and Sam Hornish Jr. Joey Lagano will take over for Hornish next season.
It also has two Nationwide Series teams in Keselowski and Ryan Blaney, son of Sprint car driver and Dave Blaney.
“It takes so many people to make this work,” Geisler said. “When you’re talking about a team that builds its own engines and all, you’re talking about 300 people.
“Over these last 10 weeks, everybody involved with the team worked so hard. We were all in. I’m so glad we won it because if we had come up short, the mood around the garage would have been ... ‘What in the world do we have to do to make this happen?’”
The Sprint Cup title came in Penske’s last year of using Dodge as manufacturer. The team is switching to Ford next year.
Dodge knew of the changeover before the start of the 2012 season.
“They dug their heels in and went for it regardless,” Geisler said of Dodge. “They took the approach that this is their last year, so they need to make the championship happen now. I can’t say enough about their efforts.”
The Sprint Cup chase will take on a different look in 2013. Geisler said the cars will have more of a stock car look and that means a change in specifications.
In his mind, that change couldn’t be happening at a better time.
“In a sense, we’re starting completely over with a new manufacturer and the new look,” Geisler said. “That’s why we all got back in the shop so quickly after taking just a day or two to celebrate Brad’s title.
“But everybody has to hit the reset button this offseason, not just us.”
While no one can full expect to win any championship in any sport, Geisler had an interesting conversation with his father following Newman’s Daytona 500 victory four years ago.
“I told him I thought our team was on the verge of something special,” Geisler said. “I felt like we were capable of wonderful things in the future.”
Geisler also realized a dream he’s shared with his wife of six years, Carrie, since they were small children. While Geisler is the son of Lynn Geisler, Carrie is the daughter of Lernerville Speedway historian Don Gamble and former track publicist Carol Gamble.
“Carrie and I have known each other since we were 4,” Geisler said. “We’ve talked about this ... We’ve dreamed about it all our lives together.”